Viewpoint - February 20, 2022

SUNDAY MUSINGS: Abba Kyari as a National Tragedy

By Innocent Okon

For Abba Kyari, the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, who was widely celebrated as Super cop and well decorated crime buster, this is winter in summer! Earthquake in harvest season!! Sunset at noon!!!

Fate has pulled the trigger at his career and freedom with two fateful cases. And fatalities can be conveniently foretold! Just four more promotions to the finish line would have seen him climb to the pinnacle of his profession as the number cop in the land. But cruel fate and personal indiscretions have conspired to make the hunter become the hunted, haunted and hounded!

This is the kind of storyline that script writers in Hollywood would need for an instant box office success. The thrills, drills, frills of a distinguished cop turned crime gang leader! I still wish this was a nightmare that would go with the slumber. But it’s the ugly face of reality.
Let me confess my admiration for the Police officer called Abba Kyari. We have never had any physical encounter, but his reported exploits in fighting criminals in many locations in the country earned him my respect and prayers! Though his resume is not widely publicised, he has urbane looks that can only be a byproduct of good education and strategic professional exposure. His name is synonymous with busting notorious and high profile criminal gangs. He was a hero and a role model in an institution that has been eviscerated by corruption, lack of public trust and respect.

It all started last year as a story tale in far country when an alleged internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas, also known among Millennials as Hushpuppi, reportedly linked “our dear” Abba Kyari as a beneficiary of $1.1million proceeds from financial scam! Going by Abba Kyari records in crime fighting in Nigeria, many people like me thought that prima facie, it was crime fighting back! It happens in all climes.

Then came this whirlwind of a story last week that Abba Kyari, whom many saw as the face of hope, beacon and future fulcrum of an accountable and people-centred Police Force was identified in Abuja by the anti-drug agency, NDLEA, as a king pin of a notorious drugs gang.

The press statement and video clips on the alleged drug transaction were damning! Set up is not impossible in a high profile case like this, particularly when the major character is a man who has put many behind bars as a gallant crime fighter. But the blow by blow account of the deal and his role were overwhelming, and only the law court can give him and his boys that benefit of innocence without reservations.
This tragedy has gone beyond Abba Kyari! The Nigerian Police as an institution must drop its sanctimonious garb of self cleansing and start diligent probing of its past for better understanding of the present and securing relevance in future.

What is this ravenous virus that attacks and blights the careers of promising officers in the Force? Some decades ago in Benin city, the present Edo state, there was a notorious bandit called Aninih. He killed, robbed and terrorised the city and contiguous towns! When arrested, he confessed that one Police officer called Iyamu was the mole that supplied him with arms and secured freedom for him and his gang members whenever caught in the Police net. On investigation , Iyamu had cars and assets that made nonsense of his monthly salaries.

Sad to report that Iyamu and Aninih died at stake same day after conviction! In the same Police institution was Fidelis Oyakhilome. A handsome and brilliant officer who once had the privilege of running state affairs in Rivers state as Governor under military rule. As at the time he was appointed the Chairman of NDLEA, an anti-drug agency, he had already bagged a Doctorate degree in law. He had no problem discharging his duties until he got romantically involved with one delectable society lady called Jennifer. She took advantage of the affair and compromised the integrity of the agency. This fine and cerebral officer lost the job and honour.

From the same Police Force came a swashbuckling cop as IGP called Tafa Balogun under OBJ . He was well read and flaunted degrees in Law, Public Administration and Political Science. When EFCC, the anti-graft agency came after him, records showed that he had assets in choice areas across Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, which couldn’t have been acquired from his legitimate income. He left his duty post despised and disgraced!

Now another promising officer called Abba Kyari is about to bite the dust! Instead of mockery and casting aspersions, methinks it is high time we turned the searchlight on the Police as an institution. How come brilliant and distinguished officers don’t last and bow out with honours? Is the problem with leadership recruitment process or perquisites of office? Is it the absence of effective profiling system that should provide dependable information on those officers who are living beyond their income? Abba Kyari and his boys may be descending into the valley now, but what guarantee is there to believe that those they are leaving behind on top of the mountain won’t follow suit sooner or later? That is where we are faced by a national tragedy we have to deal with as a nation.

Okon is a journalist and lawyer based in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

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